Lam Dong Blind Association Spa and Massage
Why was it initiated?
MESCH has had a long association with Mr Truong and members of the Lam Dong blind association (LDBA). Mr Truong has had a long term vision of generating income for the association from 2 streams -an improved massage business and a café. The project has been envisaged in 2 stages. Stage 1 to increase income through an enhanced massage business and stage 2 to assist with the construction and management of the café.
What were its aims?
To establish a new massage business run by the Lam Dong Blind association
The educational and training component of this would:
- continue to improve masseurs and other staffs’ occupational English speaking skills
- improve hygiene
- teach masseurs new massage skills
- teach professional business management
- empower people by increasing their sense of self-worth and changing their perception from dependant to independent
When did it run?
Who has been involved?
LDBA Mr Truong
MESCH Narelle and John Cassey
Other Khang Vo (potential manager, MESCH interpreter), Jason Bradley (Bodyworx, Newcastle, Australia)
Significant discussions with Mr Truong, both in-country and by SKYPE began in 2015.
MESCH had donated massage beds and saunas (6270 AUD) in 2016 and committed to paying wages for a manager and receptionist (1 year) and providing education and training in occupational English, massage techniques, business structure, marketing and management. LDBA and MESCH agreed on a suitable manager and a draft business plan was developed.
LDBA elected to buy new premises for the sole purpose of massage in early 2016. Although reasonably situated, it required a substantial re-fit and this was done poorly and at a substantial cost to them (>$122,000 AUD). An in-country visit by MESCH later in 2016 identified over 100 faults including significant aesthetic, uncomfortable/unpleasant (hot, stuffy, musty), immediately unsafe, short and long term destructive to building structure (rotting of floors and ceiling from water, incomplete structural supports).
We had pre-arranged a meeting between Mr Truong, Huynh Anh (website designer, VN national and with a significant interest in this project) and ourselves. An agreed design was produced and some content provided by MESCH.
During our 2016 visit, Jason Bradley taught western style massage to 16 masseurs of the LDBA over 3 days. This included ways of looking after themselves as well as technique (remedial and relaxation).
A series of meetings in November 2016 resulted, unfortunately, in Mr Truong rejecting all our documented concerns about aesthetics, functionality and safety of the new building. Since our suggestions, or modifications thereof, were essential to our previous mutually agreed objectives and MESCH’s principles, we did not sign an MOU and have withdrawn from future involvement at this stage.
The objectives of this project remain achievable. However, there are currently too many constraints to make it viable. MESCH has withdrawn from any future involvement unless Mr Truong makes substantial changes to his ideas and practices.
We could have asked Khang to do a more thorough assessment of the building and perhaps obviated the 2016 trip. However, she does not possess the necessary skills for this.
Khanh is Mr Truong’s government appointed accountant. She uses her influence over him to improve her own position (financial and otherwise) and that of friends (including the builder). We could have involved her from the outset, particularly as we had concerns about her influence from prior trips. However, Mr Truong had repeatedly emphasised that he was the only person making decisions.
Mr Truong micromanages everything – either because he cannot rely on anyone or it is intrinsic to his personality; Mr Truong has a general indeciveness and changes his ideas frequently and without proper consideration. He is unwilling to accept input into contemporary business practice from anyone except Khan.
Huynh Anh remains committed to the website design, production and ongoing support. We could have deferred the meeting with her until the MOU was signed. However, it was her decision to come and our input will assist development of any future website
Jason Bradley’s input was supplemented by a Vietnamese language audio of his teaching. His input was greatly valued and reinforced in 2017.
We hope that the business ideas, wall charts of the body muscular system and identification of building faults and suggestions for improved functionality might be of value to LDGH at some future date.